The Importance of Time Management for Home Business Owners

by WorkFromHome on October 14, 2011

When the typical office worker arrives at their job, they sign into a computer which tracks their arrival time. They work throughout the day, and eventually sign out of the office on that same computer system and count on eight hours’ worth of pay materializing on their next paycheck for that day at the office. And they may not have been very productive that day, either: maybe they spent an hour on Facebook, or half an hour playing computer games. Perhaps they took an extra long lunch without suffering a pay cut.

These options simply do not exist for home business owners. And if they do exist, they have direct and very detrimental consequences. Any failure in time management for the home business owner means that they will directly lower their income for their next pay period. An extra long lunch means a lower annual salary, and a less productive day means less satisfied customer who will keep contributing to the home business’ bottom line.

So, how is time management different for a home business owner than it is for a traditional office worker?

  1. Time management is self-guided:
    When a traditional office worker arrives in the morning, they’ve been handed an agenda by management. They are aware of their expectations and what needs to be done. And because they’re salaried, they have at least a little flexibility with their productivity levels. That which doesn’t get done on time will not cost them on their next paycheck. The home business owner, on the other hand, sets his or her own agenda. They decide what needs to be done that day and, if it’s not done, it means that the next day will be even busier — or their pay will suffer with each incomplete task. This makes it essential to have goal-setting skills routinely meet those goals on time — or early.
  2. Poor time management is costly for home business owners:
    An office worker who manages his time improperly is rarely faced with the consequences and, if they are, they are typically given a few warnings rather than a pay cut or any other disciplinary action. Those who own their own home businesses live a completely different lifestyle; instead of being given warnings, they are simply faced with the prospect of earning less money and risking their financial well-being. They risk losing customers because of a missed deadline — and customers can take with them hundreds or thousands of dollars in earning potential. And in the worst-case scenario, they may go weeks or months without any income at all.
  3. Working at home is distracting, while working at an office is not:
    The office is an office for a reason: it focuses the mind on the tasks at hand and forces them to be completed in a timely manner. It is free of the home’s distractions, whether they be a television, a sunny balcony with a stiff drink, or a fully-stocked refrigerator. Offices are designed to encourage productivity, while homes are designed to encourage relaxation. This can make time management especially difficult to the easily-distracted home business owner, as the home offers so many opportunities to deviate from the day’s tasks while still completing others that might seem necessary at the time.
  4. Home businesses require the owner to manage all tasks, every day:
    A typical business hires professionals in each field: only the accountants do the accounting, and only the managers do the managing. But with a home business, it is just the opposite: one person is responsible for managing every task, balancing every book, communicating with every client, and marketing themselves to new ones. They take on the entirety of the business, and that means that certain tasks can suffer at the expense of completing others. Personal biases, too, can exacerbate the problem: someone who loves accounting will find themselves doing the accounting early on, while neglecting other tasks.

Finding the Right Balance

Working from home is the ultimate test of a person’s management skills: finding the balance between a distracting and sometimes disorderly environment and a list of tasks that is exceedingly lengthy. They’ll be faced every day with the option of taking the day off or taking on extra work, and if they make the right decision, they’ll be a success. But for the less-skilled time manager, owning a home business is a dangerous prospect that can easily go awry and leave them virtually — if not literally — bankrupt in the end.

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